Power Up Your Breakfast
Here’s how to make smart (delicious!) choices so you can get up and go… and keep on going until lunch.
You've probably heard breakfast called "the most important meal of the day." Yet almost no one asks, "What's for breakfast?" Too often, we grab the first thing we see, gulp it down, and head out the door, or we skip breakfast entirely and then spend the rest of the day paying for our choice with flagging energy and poor performance. "The real question is this," says Dan Kish, head chef for Panera Bread® , "What can I eat for breakfast that will power me through until lunchtime?" Here are a few simple and satisfying answers.
Power up your cereal bowl
Many ready-to-eat cereals are high in sugars and low in fiber and protein. They can stoke your energy at first, sending blood sugar soaring, but you'll crash by mid-morning. "But steel-cut oatmeal, like Panera's, is a home run," Dan says. "In these oats, the hull is still intact, and that's great in terms of slowing your digestion." One serving at Panera contains 8 to 9 grams of belly-filling fiber, depending on the time of year and the seasonal toppings we're offering.
At-home power boost: Add even more nutrients to your steel-cut oats by mixing in chopped fresh or dried fruits and nuts, as we do in our oatmeal varieties—which feature toppings like dried cherries, apple chips, and almonds, or strawberries and pecans, depending on the season.
Power up your juice glass
An 8-ounce glass of OJ will almost fulfill your daily vitamin C needs, but it won't keep you juiced till lunchtime. If you need a quick breakfast that fits in your car's cup holder, a better bet would be a smoothie made with Greek yogurt, fruits, and a splash of your favorite 100 percent juice. Even easier: Order your own Panera Superfruit Power Smoothie, which features nonfat plain organic (U.S. only) Greek yogurt, plus ginseng, 15 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 100 percent of your daily value of vitamins B6 and B12, and 150 percent of your daily C.
At-home power boost: Like to exercise in the morning? Trade that juice for organic 100 percent coconut water in your homemade smoothie. It contains electrolytes to help replenish nutrients lost during a workout.
Power up your breakfast sandwich
"Go for a multigrain, whole grain, or sprouted-grain bread," Dan advises, to sneak in a nutritous grain right at the start of your day. That's why Panera's Breakfast Power Sandwich is served on freshly baked whole grain bread. It also contains lean ham instead of bacon or sausage.
At-home power boost: Take a tip from Panera's Mediterranean Egg White Breakfast Sandwich and add some veggies to your eggs. (Our version includes roasted tomatoes and fresh baby spinach.) For a sausagelike flavor without adding meat, Dan suggests searing some finely chopped broccoli florets with fennel seeds and sage (the two key flavors in sausage) in a fry pan with a little oil before adding the eggs.
Power up your breakfast plan
If your usual no-breakfast excuses are "no time" or "not hungry," Dan understands. "I like to do a short workout in the morning but not on an empty stomach—or a full one," he says. "I also don't have a lot of time to spare." Every morning, Dan has a banana and a small cup of coffee to wake up before his workout; then he has a little more breakfast after his workout. If your commute takes you past a bakery-cafe, let us make you a breakfast sandwich and a cup of fresh coffee to go.
At-home power boost: Keep easily portable fruit on your kitchen counter, or front and center in your fridge, so you can grab some on the way out the door. You can also make ahead hard-boiled eggs, which you can take and eat later.